Oct 20, 2009

More Random Halloween Facts

On All Hallows’ eve, the ancient Celts would place a skeleton on their window sill to represent the departed.

Originating in Europe, Halloween lanterns were first carved from a turnip or rutabaga. Believing that the head was the most powerful part of the body, containing the spirit and the knowledge, the Celts used the "head" of the vegetable to frighten off the embodiment of superstitions.

Welsh, Irish and British myth are full of legends of the Brazen Head, which may be a folk memory of the widespread ancient Celtic practice of headhunting - the results of which were often nailed to a door lintel or brought to the fireside to speak their wisdom.

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The name Jack-O'-Lantern can be traced back to the Irish legend of Stingy Jack, a greedy, gambling, hard-drinking old farmer. He tricked the devil into climbing a tree and trapped him by carving a cross into the tree trunk.

Jack made a deal with the Devil - he would let the Devil down the tree, if the Devil promised to never tempt him again. After Jack died, he was not permitted into Heaven because of his evil ways. He was also denied access to Hell because he had tricked the Devil. The devil gave him a single ember to light his way through the freezing blackness.

As Jack walked his neverending journey as punishment for his trickery, he carried the burning coal inside a turnip to help him see along the roads everywhere he traveled. Soon he was known as "Jack of the lantern" or Jack O'Lantern.

In Ireland, turnips were used as their Jack's lanterns originally. The carving of pumpkins is associated with Halloween in North America where pumpkins are both readily available and much larger - making them easier to carve than turnips.

Many families that celebrate Halloween carve a pumpkin into a frightening or comical face and place it on their doorstep after dark.

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'The Dumb Supper' was brought to America by the Africans. This is an eerie Hallowmas meal where nobody is allowed to speak, not even whisper. It encourages spirits to come to the table.

In Britain, people believed that the Devil was a nut-gatherer. At Halloween, nuts were used as magic charms.

If a girl puts a sprig of rosemary herb and a silver sixpence under her pillow on Halloween night, she will see her future husband in a dream.

Some believe if you catch a snail on Halloween night and lock it into a flat dish, then in the morning you will see the first letter of your sweetheart written in the snail's slime.

Many people used to believe that owls swooped down to eat the souls of the dying. If they heard an owl hooting, they would become frightened. A common remedy was thought to be turning your pockets inside out and you would be safe.

3 comments:

Benjamin Solah said...

Wow, those facts are very cool indeed.

C R Ward said...

Thanks Benjamin! Check back next week for my post on Vampires. :-)

Erica said...

Wow. That post was awesome! I didn't know any of that :) Thanks!